Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Provincial and Local Liberals Hate Toronto

Toronto city councillor Shelley Carroll clearly had already swallowed the Liberal Kool-Aid when she offered herself up as the party’s candidate Tuesday in the new riding of Don Valley North.

She told the media the Liberal government is an “amazing partner” with Toronto, and has contributed a tremendous amount towards the construction of new transit in the city - in addition to rebuilding public services.

Perhaps the ever ambitious Carroll missed the provincial budget launch last Thursday or is still trying to understand that mounting debt creates a heap of new servicing costs (a point she seemed to continually wrestle with as the former budget chief under Mayor David Miller).

Still, I have no clue what she’s talking about and I’m certain Mayor John Tory would agree.

In fact, either Carroll didn’t read city manager Peter Wallace’s April 28 synopsis of how Toronto fared (or rather didn’t fare) vis-a-vis the Ontario budget, or she chose to ignore it, or the script handed to her by the Wynne Liberals on Tuesday offered an alternate reality (which an ambitious councillor would gladly accept.)

I was not a fan of road tolls when Tory introduced them late last fall. I considered them another tax.

Having said that, Carroll’s would-be leader, Kathleen Wynne, convinced the mayor to expend the political capital to pursue the tolls and once he got council approval (and a fair amount of pushback from Conservative commentators), she threw him under the proverbial bus.

Deciding purely for political expediency to save seats in the 905-area code, Wynne decided not to approve the tolls this past January (tolls which would have given the city $200 million a year).

One would expect, as the mayor did, that Wynne would make up for her sudden politically motivated change of heart in the 2017 budget.

But other than tossing out a few crumbs on programs that are near and dear to the debt-plagued, cash-strapped Wynne government - child care, poverty reduction, youth training, climate change - there was no new money for the issues that really matter to Torontonians.

Sure, the city will be allowed to charge a hotel tax which, when fully implemented, will give them $15 million a year. The proceeds of the vacancy tax is yet to be determined.

But they’re mere crumbs.

Let’s start with transit. There was no pledge to assist with a sorely needed $6-billion downtown relief line.

On the $3.3-billion one-stop Scarborough subway, there was no mention of whether the province will commit to the full $2 billion expected from the city.

(I guess that’s a “No.”)

The only contribution will come from a doubled share of the gas tax, which will give the city $642 million a year by 2021-22. I repeat, by 2021-22.

That’s four budget years away and with any luck, Wynne won’t be Premier by then.

It’s little wonder the city can’t get on with planning for future transit when they’re dealing with a government that doesn’t honour its word and doles out money like an allowance.

Ditto for social housing. I have sat in many a TCHC meeting where the talk turns to capital repairs and the 10-year, $2.6-billion capital plan to try to get ahead of the backlog.

The idea was for the city, province and the feds to each pony up one-third.

To date the city has fulfilled its commitment and the feds have given some money.

The province? Not one red cent.

So much for poverty reduction.

So much for Carroll’s claims that public services have been rebuilt by her would-be leader.

I can’t figure which is crumbling faster: Toronto’s infrastructure or Wynne’s integrity.

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